Saturday, July 4, 2020

Smoked Sea Scallops

I love sea scallops. And I've got a lot of ways to prepare them. Pan-searing is the one I use the most. The scallops will cook in about 3 minutes using that method, but if you goof by just a little, those delicate sea scallops will become firm and rubbery.....almost like trying to eat a car tire. But last week I learned an all-new method of cooking scallops that is absolutely foolproof. But first a word on how to buy sea scallops.

Fresh scallops look like the photo above. Note that they are dry, which is precisely why they are referred to as "dry scallops". If you set them on a paper towel, they give off next-to-no liquid. When you cook them up, they are sweet. They taste like the ocean. These are the scallops you want to buy. But they are expensive because they have a very limited shelf life. I paid $29.99 a pound for them last week.

The scallops in the above photo are not fresh. They have been previously frozen. They are referred to as "wet scallops" and when you see them in the store they are often sitting in a white, creamy liquid. They have been treated with a preservative and whitening agent called sodium tripolyphosphate (STP). If you put them on a paper towel, they will give off a ton of liquid. STP increases the water retained by the scallop, often by as much as 30%. So frozen scallops end up being a poor value, compared to fresh, as you are paying for a lot of water.

Sodium tripolyphosphate gives the scallop an unpleasant chemical flavor. It's impossible to get rid of that taste. Your only choice is to mask it by pre-soaking the scallops in a mix of water, lemon juice and salt. If you care about putting the best tasting and healthiest scallops in your mouth, buy only fresh. There is a world of difference and it will take you but a single bite to discover it.

Smoking sea scallops could not be easier. You simply build a two-zone fire in your grill (direct and indirect). Then you throw a chunk of mesquite  on the coals and set the scallops on the indirect side of the grill. Cover the grill and in just 20 minutes, your scallops are ready for eating...but will taste even better if you douse them with some melted butter. This recipe serves two.

6 large dry sea scallops
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Melted butter for serving

  1. Prepare your grill for two zone cooking (coals banked to one side of the grill and nothing on the other side).
  2. Season scallops with salt and pepper.
  3. Add mesquite chunk to coals and then place scallops on the indirect side of the grill. Cover grill and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove scallops from grill and serve with melted butter.

Wine pairing: A big, oaky Chardonnay

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

1 comment: